A Visit to Don Otavio

Bruce Chatwin called Sybille Bedford's classic of travel writing a "book of marvels," and Michael Dirda agrees.

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The Long Ships

The masterpiece of a 20th-century Swedish historical novelist who belongs in the company of Dumas, Sabatini, and Patrick O'Brian.

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James Lees-Milne

The life, times, and seductions of James Lees-Milne (1908-1997), England's greatest 20th-century diarist.

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The Letters of Pliny the Younger

The correspondence of an Roman administrator reveals the mind of the ancient world's consummate "insider." Read more...

A Reader on Reading

A collection of essays on a reading life from the author of A History of Reading and The Library at Night

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On the Shoulders of Giants

Robert K. Merton's classic work of comic scholarship is a uniquely witty, digressive entertainment for the mind.

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The Stories of Heinrich von Kleist

Arresting and magical tales from a little known master of German literature. Read more...

2009: A Year in the (Reading) Life

Michael Dirda on the books of the year that "continue to linger most vividly in my memory."

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The Poems of Thomas Hardy

The novelist's other life, as a sensitive recorder of "tears in things." Read more...

Ecstasies

The fascinating folklore of the witches' sabbath in medieval Europe. Read more...

Hindoo Holiday

The idiosyncratic memoir of a visit to India, by the celebrated author of My Dog Tulip. Read more...

The Pillow Book

A thousand years on, a noblewoman's gleanings from Japanese courtly life still shimmer with beauty. Read more...

An Iranian Classic

Michael Dirda ventures into the phantasmagoric world of Sadegh Hedayat's The Blind Owl. Read more...

After the Barbarians: From Gibbon to Auden

How classical scholars have redefined and rediscovered the fascinations of "Late Antiquity." Read more...

Elective Affinities

Michael Dirda on Goethe's penetrating tale of four lovers at cross purposes. Read more...

Lud-in-the-Mist

Michael Dirda revisits a classic fantasy that unlocks the disturbing possibilities of fairyland. Read more...

Lives of the Artists

Giorgio Vasari's gossipy, glorious catalogue of personalities is one of the Renaissance's defining works.

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The Life of Henry Brulard

Michael Dirda on Stendhal's memoir of his childhood -- unpublishable in the author?s lifetime. Read more...

Winter's Tales

A host of haunting stories, made to savor by a December fireside.

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The Book of Ebenezer Le Page

Life on a small island in the English Channel is captured in this novel from a little-known author. Read more...

About the Columnist
Michael Dirda is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Washington Post Book World. He is the author of the memoir An Open Book and several collections of essays. His most recent book is Classics for Pleasure.

July 28: Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin eloped on this day in 1814.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Paradise and Elsewhere

Canadian short story marvel Kathy Page emerges as the Alice Munro of the supernatural from these heartfelt tales of shapeshifting swimmers, mild-mannered cannibals, and personality-shifting viruses transmitted through kisses.

Pastoral

When a persuasive pastor arrives in a sleepy farm town, his sage influence has otherworldly results (talking sheep, a mayor who walks on water). But can he pull off the miracle of finding kindly local Liz Denny the love of her life?  Small wonder looms large in this charmer from Andre Alexis.

The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).